The Red Prison: My Photo Exhibition in a Saddam-Era Jail


This post is by Joey L. from PetaPixel


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When people ask me my favorite places on Earth, typically I respond like this: the best food is in Ethiopia, the best historical sites are in India, but the best people are in Kurdistan. For that reason, I have been pulled back to Kurdistan as a photographer again and again.

This article features some of my most recent work from the region since the publication of my book We Came From Fire: Kurdistan’s Armed Struggle Against ISIS.

We finally finished our documentary about my photography exhibition in Iraqi Kurdistan. This film highlights the struggle we had opening it and the

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This Photographer Shot a Wet Plate Portrait Over Video Chat


This post is by Michael Zhang from PetaPixel


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Photographers around the world have been getting creative to keep their skills sharp during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and widespread home quarantine. While many photographers are experimenting with doing remote photo shoots over video chat, Shane Balkowitsch took it to a new level by capturing a wet plate portrait.

As far as Balkowitsch can tell through his research, this may be the first-ever wet plate portrait shot over a live video chat.

It’s “creativity out of necessity in isolation of a pandemic,” Balkowitsch says.

Last Friday, the US-based Balkowitsch photographed the UK-based Morgan Barbour from 3,961 miles away thanks to

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I Shot Military Survival Training with a Holga Toy Camera


This post is by Corban Lundborg from PetaPixel


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My name is Corban Lundborg, and I just completed a series of rare military survival courses at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington, during February 2020. I was authorized to bring a film camera to the field portion of SERE (Survive, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) School. Equipped with a Holga 120N plastic camera, I was able to capture four rolls of Ilford HP5+ medium format film.

I’m a full-time artist working across a handful of mediums in Los Angeles. Between art gigs on the West Coast, I also work as a combat photographer for the Air Force Reserve —

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How to Make Cyanotype Prints of Your Digital Photos at Home


This post is by DL Cade from PetaPixel


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Photographer Mathieu Stern has put together a simple step-by-step that will teach you how to turn your digital photographs into beautiful cyanotype prints. If you’ve never made physical prints at home, consider this your gateway drug.

The cyanotype is a photographic printing process that was invented in 1842 by astronomer Sir John Herschel. The process involves using two chemicals—ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide—and sunlight (or UV light) to create a cyan-blue print on watercolor paper, using a photographic negative as your base image.

The basic, step-by-step process involves:

  1. Turn your digital photos into negatives in Photoshop, and print them

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Make Your Own Film Developer and Fixer Using These Household Items


This post is by DL Cade from PetaPixel


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Last week, photographer Brendan Barry created a timely tutorial on how to turn your bedroom into a giant camera, and use it to take actual pictures. But what if you don’t have any photographic chemicals around for developing and fixing those images? Barry’s got you covered.

“I couldn’t stop thinking that the second half of that last video required you to have developer and fixer, which most people wouldn’t have lying around at home and therefore was not a lot of use to many,” Barry tells PetaPixel. “I wondered if I could use caffenol developer on paper and find an

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Building an Afghan 8×10 Box Camera for $100


This post is by Antoine Loncle from PetaPixel


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My name is Antoine Loncle, and I’m an independent photographer. I shared my homemade 8×10 box camera on several photography groups and it received a lot of interest. I figured I’d do a little write up for anyone that wanted to know more about the camera as well as see some images of the building process.

The Idea

After about a year and a half of shooting with a 4×5 camera, I inevitably wanted to go bigger. A quick e-bay search turned up cameras that were way out of my budget. So, the very next idea I had was

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Shooting Environmental Portraits in Detroit


This post is by Noah Stephens from PetaPixel


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The City of Detroit has launched a redevelopment plan for the Gratiot/7-Mile community. I’ve been hired by the city and the consulting firm Giffels-Webster as the still-images creative director and photographer.

Our task is to create a series of portraits with two primary goals:

1. Highlight key quality-of-life issues in the community (i.e. public safety, health, mass transit, etc.).

2. Drive community buy-in for the redevelopment plan.

The city identified the Heilmann Recreation Center as a keystone institution in this community. As such, the rec center seemed like a good place to start our portrait project – specifically

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ISO Has Nothing to Do with Exposure: An Explanation for Beginners


This post is by DL Cade from PetaPixel


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Photographer Chris Lee of the YouTube channel pal2tech recently released one of the most straightforward (and accurate) explanations of ISO that we’ve seen. In this 12 minute video, he explains what ISO is and, just as importantly, takes on a couple of common misconceptions by explaining what ISO is not.

ISO is probably one of the (if not THE) most misunderstood technologies in digital photography. Stemming in part from people equating it with film speed (i.e. ASA), and in part from some useful-but-misleading simplifications that are shared quite frequently, people often believe and share two bits of misinformation:

  1. ISO

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A Complete Guide to Using Off Camera Flash for Wedding Photography


This post is by DL Cade from PetaPixel


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Wedding photographer Reggie Ballesteros gets a lot of questions from aspiring wedding photographers, and one of the most common is: how do you use off-camera flash? So he’s created a comprehensive guide that covers his entire process—from the gear he uses, to his thought process during setup, through execution.

“In this video, I break it all down: the gear that I use, how I set it up, my exposure/flash power settings, and my thought process and approach,” explained Ballesteros when he sent PetaPixel the guide. “From there, I take the viewer behind the scenes so they can see the implementation

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Shooting a Wedding with the Leica M9


This post is by Tomer Vaknin from PetaPixel


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My name is Tomer, and I’ve been a street photographer for the past 12 years. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of event photography, shooting weddings, couples, families, and more.

A few days ago, I got a job as a second shooter at a wedding from my friend Asaf Tamam, who’s a professional event photographer. I found myself in a dilemma.

My main camera gear is the Leica M10 and Leica Q, two great cameras for any situation from professional street photography to professional event photography.

But a month ago, I sent my M10 to Wetzlar for

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Recreating a $1,000,000 Hershey’s Commercial on a $500 Budget


This post is by Alex Gasaway from PetaPixel


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We had exactly one last take to get this right. “Hold…hold…okay go!” We all held our breath as our motorized graham crackers moved toward each other, hoping the last twelve hours weren’t a complete waste.

I recently teamed up with​ Armando Ferreira​ to re-create two commercial shots that were made using expensive cinema robots, on a shoestring budget. Both shots came from ​Steve Giralt​, a brilliant visual engineer who pushes the boundaries on practical effects using cinema robots like Kira, Mia, Vigo and Bolt.

We recreated a fairly well-known commercial Steve produced for Hershey’s chocolate that was

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How I Built a Custom Charging Board for All of My Camera Batteries


This post is by Tom Barnes from PetaPixel


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Recently I became—as I’m sure many of you already are—utterly sick of the endless chargers and cables in my studio. It’s a mess of wires that always seem to get tangled and it always ends up looking like Medusa on a bad hair day.

I’ve tried various things over the years: I’ve tried hiding them in drawers, Velcro-ing them to the wall or under a desk, but it has always ended up in the same mess. They also tend to take up a lot of room. So I created a custom charging board that was extremely easy to set up

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Shooting a Creative Album Cover Photo with a Delorean


This post is by Nick Fancher from PetaPixel


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In late 2018 my buddy RJ (AKA RJD2) approached me about shooting the cover art for an upcoming album he was working on. He didn’t have a concrete idea about what he wanted to do but suggested possibly involving his Delorean.

He was specific about the images not being about the car itself but rather capturing elements of the car’s shape and incorporating them into creative portraits. I was intrigued but really couldn’t visualize what the hell he was talking about.

Eight months later, he hit me up and told me he was ready to shoot. He said that

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Creating Homemade Photography Backdrops on the Cheap


This post is by Andrew Barrow from PetaPixel


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Anyone who has had any exposure to still life photography or studio work will know just how expensive backdrops can be. I have a couple from Kate Backdrops company, one of which I use very often, but I’ve been hankering after a few more.

I find the addition of new props and new backgrounds often sparks a flurry of creativity. At the very least, the desire to use the new additions immediately spikes a renewed endeavour that can lift you out of a photographic slump.

With half an eye on wanting some new lenses (I’d like an 85mm and a

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The Secret to Developing Your Street Photography


This post is by Simon Ellingworth from PetaPixel


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Shooting Street Photography without a project in mind is like shopping for food when you’re hungry. You might get a few nice treats, but ultimately you get back and find there is nothing to sustain you.

So, if you’ve ever been out shooting street photography and found yourself uninspired, demotivated by not finding new material, or just not knowing what it is you’re looking for, I have the perfect solution for you: personal projects.

Don’t panic! The concept of personal projects and developing a body of work can be intimidating, so I developed a simple step-by-step system for one of

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Refracted Rose: A Fun Valentine’s Day Macro Photography Idea


This post is by Maximilian Simson from PetaPixel


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It’s Valentine’s Day and a good opportunity to grab some flowers and celebrate our love for photography with another creative project. I didn’t want to miss my chance, so I grabbed some red roses and in today’s post I will share my set-up for a Valentine’s Day ‘Refracted Rose’ photo.

The required ingredients shouldn’t be too hard to gather:

Investigating Mystery Photos Found in a 60-Year-Old Camera


This post is by Michael Zhang from PetaPixel


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Experimental photographer and “weird gear” collector Mathieu Stern made this 5.5-minute video about how he recently found a roll of mystery film inside a 60-year-old medium format camera.

In the summer of 2019, Stern was at a huge flea market in France when he purchased a Lubitel-2, a twin-lens reflex manufactured by LOMO in Russia between 1955 and 1977. Considered a toy camera due to its cheap price and poor build quality, Lubitel models were a way for photographers to dip their toes in shooting on 120 film without breaking the bank.

Upon opening the back of the camera

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Rob Carr on Shooting the Super Bowl, and Why Sony is Not for Him


This post is by Jaron Schneider from PetaPixel


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If you’re a sports photographer at any level in the United States, the dream gig would be to shoot a national championship: the World Series, the MLS cup, the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup, or perhaps the most coveted of all, the Super Bowl. For Getty Images Chief Sports Photographer Rob Carr, that dream is a reality.

Just coming off shooting Super Bowl LIV featuring the San Francisco 49ers versus the Kansas City Chiefs game on Sunday, Carr took a few minutes to talk to us about how he prepared for the game, how he shot it, and

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These Oversized Objects Were Shot with Photo Tricks and Zero Budget


This post is by Yiannis Biliris from PetaPixel


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For our latest project, Oversized Normality, we wanted to create an unreal world while at the same time achieve a realistic final result even if we had changed the proportion of an object 1:1000 times. We wished to accomplish this without using any advanced VFX techniques, which would have required a higher budget and more time.

We, Visual Suspect (a Hong Kong-based video production company), were inspired by pre-existing photography techniques of compositions of two different images. These worked great in stills, and we then tried to experiment with it in moving pictures.

How We Shot It

Every shot

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A Whale Tail: Overcoming Fear to Swim with Humpback Whales


This post is by John Granata from PetaPixel


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It’s 2019, I’m 80 miles away from land in the Atlantic Ocean, and I just have to laugh. I just got out of the water and noticed that my camera housing is leaking. I couldn’t afford the Nauticam rental this time, so I went cheap and hoped for the best. It’s my third trip to the Silver Bank with Tom Conlin and Aquatic Adventures and once again my photographic luck was left behind on solid ground.

Oddly, I’m ok with this and it’s time to get back in the water. I grab my phone for some snapshots, slide on belly

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